George Lucas Educational Foundation
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I had a great time at this year's ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference, as both a presenter and participant. Of course I was excited to hear Jane McGonigal again as she engaged us in thinking about games for learning and other amazing purposes. As ISTE closes, there are many free resources that I saw either introduced or highlighted around game-based learning (GBL), from educational games to gamification in the classroom. I'm always looking for free! (Aren't we all?) Some of these tools and concepts have already been featured in news reports about education, but following are a few ideas as you consider using them.

SimCity Edu

We have all been awaiting the release of SimCity Edu, and you can now pilot it this summer in anticipation for use in the classroom this fall. Although applications for this pilot close on June 28, I'm sure there will be more to release soon. In the meantime, you can still log in and create your own lesson and ideas as well as browse other sample units and lessons. One sample unit has students focus on creating civic engagement in SimCity, aligned to civics learning objectives and essential questions. Many of the other lessons are aligned to common core standards and other content standards like business, math and science.


Newly announced from GameDesk is, a huge database of games and game lessons that teachers can use in the classroom. It's free, and you can even create your own lessons to share with the PLN they've created. It's a great way to get your own GBL ideas out there for feedback and collaboration. The lessons are aligned to content, grade level, and even 21st century skills like critical thinking and collaboration. You can also add lessons to your "backpack," "like" and comment on lessons, and share them on social media. I especially liked the lesson idea of using statistics to predict and plan outcomes for the board game Settlers of Catan (one of my favorites). Educade's mission is to "zap" boredom, so if you're using the tools, consider joining the Twitter hastag PLN #EducadeZAP.

Quest Designing Tools

Dr. Chris Haskell of 3D Game Lab has put together some great resources on designing effective gamification environments for learning. One of the best articles I've seen on this site -- and on this subject -- is "Understanding Quest-Based Learning," which goes over effective usage of game mechanics in the classroom, as well as quest design, incentives and assessment components. 3D Game Lab also has paid Teacher Camps that allow participants to use their learning management system. However, the resources on the site also provide a great framework for ensuring quality gamification in the classroom.

It's clear that there are more and more tools and resources out there to help support implementation of GBL in the classroom. As you consider some of these resources, don’t go crazy! Make sure to start small. Along with that, be intentional in terms of student learning outcomes. Build or use assessments appropriately, and give feedback to the organizations creating and providing the lessons, resources and tools -- because we're all in this together! I would love to hear how you are using these in your classroom and more.

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Wowzers's picture
Wowzers offers online Game-based Math curriculum for Grades 3-8

The folks at 3D Game Lab are doing some pretty awesome stuff with gamification in the classroom. I'm glad you got a chance to shine some light on them.

If any readers are interested in Game-based learning for 3rd-8th grade math, be sure to check out Wowzers at

Prodigy Game's picture

It's great that so many of the big players are starting to recognize the need for free resources. The SimCity series has always been incredibly fun, but like Minecraft it seems like the game would be daunting for a teacher new to GBL to wrap their head around the idea (your other post is a great start) and then effectively channel their student's enthusiasm with a targeted lesson plan.

Do you have any links to teachers that have created a lesson plan for SimCityEdu or Minecraft? I'd be interested to see what expectations they were able to cover.

John Marx's picture

Wow, it's great. There are a lot of interesting ideas and even they are free. I agree with the game-based learning. makes learning so fun and not boring.

Great job.

tonya1026's picture

Game based learning is not only fun but it provides opportunities for higher learning skills.
Tonya Simmons

Elana Leoni's picture
Elana Leoni
Edcamper, Former @Edutopia, Founder of Social Media Marketing Consultancy aimed at helping educational orgs.

Great resources Andrew. I attended a Minecraft EDU session at ISTE and was blown away by the possibilities. Make sure to check out @knowclue's blog: It has tons of resources on how to get started with Minecraft as well.

Mitch Moldofsky's picture
Mitch Moldofsky
Founder at Thinking Skills Club

Totally jazzed to learn that SimCityEdu is coming out! I'm always looking for games I can run as clubs in addition to my own.

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